5 Colonial Attractions to Visit Within Galle Fort

A trip to the historic city of Galle, the administrative capital of the southern coast of Sri Lanka is a must during your travels to Sri Lanka.

Amongst things to see in Galle, the Dutch Fort and its attractions are top of the list. Here are 5 colonial attractions within the Galle Fort to check out.

Dutch Reformed Church

dutch reformed church in galle. Also known as de groote kerk
An epitome of dutch architectural mastery. The Dutch Church in Galle | Photo Credit: Aries

The Dutch Reformed Church also named as De Groote Kerk or Dutch Church is considered as one of the oldest protestant churches in Sri Lanka, which is still being used. Built in 1755, this church floor is paved with gravestones from Dutch cemeteries.

The church also contains an organ, as well as a pulpit crafted from calamander wood. During your visit to the church, you will come across the ever so friendly caretaker who will describe and unravel the history of various items in the church.

Essential information

  • Construction started: 1682
  • Construction completed: 1755
  • Funded by: Casparus de Jong (Dutch Commandeur of Galle)
  • Architecture: Doric Style

National Maritime Museum

national maritime museum in galle
The national maritime museum is easily identifiable with its strange coloured walls

Built by the Dutch in 1671 as a warehouse, it was converted to a museum in 1992. It is visited by locals and international tourists alike. If you are a history buff, a visit to the museum is a must as it showcases a collection of maps, models of boats and loot from ship-wrecks. These relics, as well as the depictions of people, are noteworthy material to observe during your visit to the maritime museum.

After the 2004 Tsunami, which led to the destruction of the museum, it was once again opened to the general public in 2010 as the first National Maritime Archaeology Museum in Sri Lanka. The refurbishments were done with the grant received from the Royal Government of Netherlands. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance.

Essential information

Old Dutch Hospital

old dutch hospital building in Galle
Old Dutch hospital is now a classy shopping complex. | Photo Credit: Mats Ödman

One of the oldest buildings in the area, the old Dutch Hospital building has now become a shopping precinct. In the 17th century, a two-storey hospital was built in the eastern side using coral stones and granite stones for the floor.

The building was later on extended to the northern side by the British, and in 1850, it was transformed to barracks by the British. Post-Independence-Day, the building was used as the Galle Town Hall. In 2014, the Dutch Hospital building was converted to a shopping and dining district while preserving the historical architecture.

National Museum

national museum of galle front
The front of National museum building | Photo by Dan Arndt [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

While things to see in Galle are plenty, if you are interested in the local history, don’t forget to visit the National Museum. The building housing the museum was built in 1656, and later used as a billiards room of the New Oriental Hotel.

In 1986, it was renovated and the museum was opened by the Department of National Museums. Among the limited collection of relics housed in the museum, there are exhibits which belonged to the periods of Portuguese, Dutch and British.

Did you know? Old Galle town and its fortifications are included in the UNESCO heritage list

There are three main galleries, the first one out of which, contains exhibits of various industries of the locale such as beeralu (bobbin) lace  weaving, manufacturing turtle shell jewellery and carving of wooden masks.

Visitors can witness weaponry and furniture used during the Dutch period in the second gallery. The last gallery is dedicated to highlighting the relations between China and Sri Lanka especially between the Chinese monk Faxian and Zheng He, the 14th-century fleet admiral. This gallery is named as Sri Lanka Chinese Friendship Gallery.

Essential information

  • Built in: 1656
  • Architecture Style: Colonnaded
  • Early usage: As a Commissariat store for the Dutch forces
  • Ticket Prices
    • Adult: Rs. 920.00
    • Child: Rs. 460.00
  • Opening Hours: 09.00 AM to 05:00 PM / Tuesday to Saturday
  • Official Site: Galle National Museum

All Saint’s Church

all saint's Anglican church in galle
British architecture at its finest – All Saint’s church | Photo Credit: Frank Page

The All Saint’s Church located in the Galle Fort is an Anglican church initiated by Rev. James Chapman, the first Bishop of Colombo while the foundation of the church was laid by the second Bishop of Colombo, Rev. Dr Piers Calyeley Claughton. The design of the church was done by J.G. Smithers who later on designed the National Museum of Colombo.

The consecration of the church was done by Bishop Claughton assisted by Rev. Dr George Justus Schrader. All Saint’s Church Galle depicts the style of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. The structure of the church resembles a cross and is supported by stone columns and timber arches. The sanctuary is made using Burmese teak and the arches are made using local lime mortar and kabuk.

So that’s it, folks, these are the colonial attractions within the Galle Fort. You can explore these places within a day and take a stroll in the streets of Galle in the evening. There are many quaint restaurants and street food stalls to keep a weary traveller occupied.

Essential information

Locations

The above-mentioned buildings are located so close to each other. You can cover all of these within a few hours. Click on the icons in the map to view details of each attraction.

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